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The Farmers Hold Their Ground

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2006 at 1:42 AM

and tell the Mayor and City Council, "Thanks, but no thanks" to private buyers

The Farmers Hold The...
faces_at_city_hall.jpg, image/jpeg, 598x408

LOS ANGELES, February 17--At 10:00 a.m. in a jammed Los Angeles City Council

chambers, two dozen South Central Farmers and a hundred farm supporters in

bright green shirts crowded in the back three rows and behind the pews. 

Small green ribbons and green armbands decorated supporters throughout the

audience.  The farmers waited with years-long-learned patience through

interminable retirement tributes, recognition of Filipino war veterans, and the

beginning of a resolution for the residents of Lincoln Place.  Their

supporters were somewhat more restless.

In front of City Hall, another thirty farm supporters stretched banners along

the bulwarks and marched along the sidewalks with cardboard fruits and

vegetables, and signs demanding the land be returned to the farmers.

But it was undoubtedly the implacable demeanor of the  farmers themselves

that prompted council president Garcetti to urge a speedy start for their


For months, a small contingent of farmers has come weekly from tilling, planting, and harvesting the earth to the architectural grandeur of the John Ferraro Council Chamber to

plead for their land.  Unlike their prior presentations, today the City

Council sat up and took note.

The farmers worked City Hall like the pros they've become.  At 11:30,

leaving a small group waiting to speak, a sea of green silently left the

chamber and swelled around the third floor corner to the Mayor's office. 

On being told that Mayor Villaraigosa wasn't in, they made sure their presence, as one

aide affirmed, "was noted."

A bystander was escorted from the council chambers when he predicted a

workers' uprising if the farm is demolished.

Then the mass of farmers and supporters briefly returned to council chambers before

moving on, again with a group remaining,  to a well-coordinated press

conference on City Hall's south lawn.  There, they made their demands


  • That the farmers refused the Mayor's recommendation that they find private

    donations to buy the 14-acre property from developer Ralph Horowitz at market

    price, when the City had been sold it to him for only M.  Instead

    they demanded that the City invoke eminent domain to reclaim the property and

    turn it over to the farmers.

  • That the Mayor hold a city-wide town hall meeting to explain how the

    transfer to Horowitz happened and to put forward a comprehensive plan for the

    greening of LA

  • That the Mayor intervene to halt intensified ticketing of cars parked

    adjacent to the farm

Meanwhile, in council chambers, by noon the farm supporters finally had their

say.  Groups as diverse as Food Not Bombs and USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development students

stood up for the farmers.  One mother testified that she had fed her young

children from the food on the farm and, because of that, avoided welfare until she got on her

feet.  Another speaker pointed to the City's potential embarrassment if

the South Central Farm is shut down as the American Community Gardening

Association plans its August conference for Los Angeles.  A high school

science teacher berated the council for racism and classism in their treatment

of the farmers, declared that shutting down the farm would be the first shot in

a race and class war, and asked, "Do you expect these families to docilely

take their children to McDonald's and watch television" if the farm is shut


As the speaking group left the chambers to join their sisters and brothers on the lawn,

the farm supporters put the Council on notice with a chant that "Hey, hey,

ho, ho, these backroom deals have got to go!" Police urged them on their way out.

The farmers left quickly after the press conference, presumably back to

waiting employers after a half day's absence.  But a small group of

supporters remained, singing and dancing on the lawn.

In spite of my years of education, I remain monolingual.  If I spoke

Spanish, I would have asked the farmers if any of them had learned their quiet resolve in

Mexico trying to save their land after NAFTA or during the Mayan uprising for land in Guatemala.  It was two months

ago that the farmers announced the imminent demolition of the farm.  Today,

the farm is still here, and Los Angeles City Council took note.

Report this post as:

crowding City Hall steps

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2006 at 1:42 AM

crowding City Hall s...
crowding_city_hall.jpg, image/jpeg, 490x480

Report this post as:

life, not destruction

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2006 at 1:42 AM

life, not destructio...
not_bulldozers.jpg, image/jpeg, 600x379

Report this post as:

corn and watermelon

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2006 at 1:42 AM

corn and watermelon...
corn_and_watermelon.jpg, image/jpeg, 600x396

Report this post as:

largest urban farm

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2006 at 1:42 AM

largest urban farm...
largest_urban_farm.jpg, image/jpeg, 600x380

Report this post as:

a view from the City Hall vestibule

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2006 at 1:42 AM

a view from the City...
city_hall_vestibule.jpg, image/jpeg, 600x450

Report this post as:

wating to be heard

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2006 at 1:42 AM

wating to be heard...
wating_to_be_heard.jpg, image/jpeg, 600x450

Report this post as:

Villaraigosa challenge

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2006 at 1:42 AM

Villaraigosa challen...
villaraigosa_challenge.jpg, image/jpeg, 478x458

Report this post as:

on the lawn

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2006 at 1:42 AM

on the lawn...
on_the_south_lawn.jpg, image/jpeg, 600x450

Report this post as:

food not warehouses

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2006 at 1:42 AM

food not warehouses...
food_not_warehouses.jpg, image/jpeg, 428x640

Report this post as:

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